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July 15, 1974

Hazards of Children's Vitamin Preparations Containing Iron

Author Affiliations

AMA Department of Drugs

JAMA. 1974;229(3):324. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230410048027

Ingestion of iron preparations and vitamin preparations containing iron are the fourth most common cause of poisoning in children under 5 years of age. Unless treated promptly, mortality from acute iron poisoning has been reported to be approximately 50% in these young children.

Iron compounds, commonly given to mothers during or immediately after pregnancy, have most frequently been associated with accidental poisoning of children. The iron compound frequently used is ferrous sulfate and the usual formulation is a tablet containing 300 mg. The tablets are often attractively packaged and sugar coated. Six or seven of these tablets are equivalent to 400 mg of elemental iron, a dose that is potentially fatal to a young child.

Recently, the Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all infants be given an iron-fortified formula until they are 1 year old. Iron-fortified cereals and other food products are being marketed